U. S. Steel Minntac Completes $50-Million Upgrade To Concentrator Facility
United States Steel Corporation's (NYSE: X) Minnesota Ore Operations (Minntac) recently completed a six-year, $50-million upgrade of its concentrator facility. The half-mile long facility, containing 16 concentrator lines, has processed more than two billion tons of crude ore since it was built 35 years ago.
The modernization project, which benefited from innovations designed and implemented by Minntac employees, included refurbishing the processing equipment, updating lubrication systems, adding new instrumentation, and upgrading computer process control systems. The project was supported by $6.4 million from the Taconite Economic Development funds and grant programs sponsored by the State Legislature and administered through the Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation Board (IRRRB).
Minntac General Manager Jim Swearingen said, "The investment we've made in this project has paid off in terms of increased iron recovery, increased line productivity, improved quality, lower product costs, reduced unscheduled delays and fewer employee accidents. Concentrator employees can be proud of a job well done."
"The concentrator modernization is part of Minntac's commitment to making the highest quality taconite pellets in the most efficient and cost effective manner. It's only through providing customers with the quality, price and service they expect that we can remain a viable business and continue to be a community asset," Swearingen added.
Before the equipment could be upgraded, much of the building had to be renovated, and a fresh coat of protective paint was added to brighten up the plant. To keep up with the demand for taconite pellets, the line rebuild projects took place during the winter months and were scheduled in conjunction with planned agglomerator outages.
The concentrator facility is where the first step in the process of beneficiating iron ore takes place. In the concentrator, taconite containing approximately 20 percent magnetic iron is ground to the consistency of fine powder in rod and ball mills, water is added, and magnetic separators remove the iron particles from waste material. The concentrated iron ore is then transferred to the agglomerator facility where it is mixed with a binder, rolled into balls about the size of marbles and fired in rotating kilns. The finished taconite pellets contain about 64 percent magnetic iron.
Minntac, the largest taconite mine on the Mesabi Range, employs 1,550 people and can produce 16 million tons of pellets each year. Approximately two-thirds of those pellets are shipped to U. S. Steel facilities to be turned into high quality, value-added steel that is used for the exterior surfaces of automobiles, for home appliances and other applications. The remaining one- third of the pellets is sold to commercial customers.
For more information about U. S. Steel, visit our Web site at http://www.ussteel.com/.
SOURCE: United States Steel Corporation
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